Armenia mapThe name Armenia first appeared in the Behistun inscription of Darius I, king of Persia about 521 BC. In 612 BC Armenia was conquered by Media, which ruled it until 549 BC, when Cyrus, king of Persia, seized the country.

Some years after the death (323 BC) of Alexander the Great, who had conquered Persia, Armenia became independent. Antiochus III, king of Syria, conquered it in 212 BC and divided it into two satrapies under Armenian princes. These satrapies were independent kingdoms from 190 BC, until 94 BC, when Tigranes the Great, king of Armenia, reunited them under his rule. Tigranes conquered parts of Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, but was beaten by the Romans in 69 BC.

At the beginning of the 4th century, Armenia became a center of Christianity. In 642, Armenia was dominated by the Arabs. In 886, the Armenian kingdom was reestablished. Around 1240, Armenia was invaded by the Mongols, who ruled it until the early 15th century. The Ottomans conquered most of the region in the 16th century. Russian conquests in the Caucasus in the 19th century were welcomed by the Armenians.

In 1918, Armenians formerly under tsarist rule declared their independence. In 1922 the Armenian republic joined with the Soviet Socialist republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia to form the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (SFSR), which became one of the four original republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). A separate Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) was formed in 1936.

In 1990 the Supreme Soviet of Armenia declared the country a sovereign republic. The conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian enclave there, escalated into open warfare, as the Armenian army invaded and occupied the disputed territory in 1992. In 1995, Armenia held its first parliamentary elections as an independent country.






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The Etchmiadzin Cathedral, in Armenia, founded in 303 by the first Armenian Catholicos, St. Gregory. It is considered the oldest cathedral in the world.


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